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Oliver, 1st Year


Why study mathematics at Cambridge?

Good reasons are that you enjoy mathematics, you are good at mathematics, and you are looking for a course that interprets mathematics in a broad sense.

Detailed information about the Cambridge course is available on the Faculty of Mathematics' website. In summary, the course:

  • is designed to integrate students from a wide range of backgrounds;
  • has a first-year structure where solid foundations are laid;
  • has increasing flexibility and breadth in subsequent years (especially in the fourth year), allowing students to pursue their own interests whether they be in Pure Mathematics, Applicable Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and/or Theoretical Physics;
  • will teach you lots of new and exciting mathematics, but will also stretch you intellectually, and make you think differently (the latter, in particular, being an attribute sought by employers);
  • takes either three years (leading to a BA), or four years (leading to a BA and a MMath);
  • is an outstanding mathematics course ... but we would say that, wouldn't we!

Why choose Emmanuel?

Choice of College is somewhat subjective. Most students will be at home in most Colleges, but there are a few differences between Colleges.

At Emmanuel we aim to take 10-12 students per year (where this figure includes the 1-2 taking Mathematics with Physics in their first year). This is more than most Colleges, so there is almost always someone else in your year with similar mathematical interests (be it pure, applied, etc.); however, it is fewer than the largest Colleges, so your friendship group will include non-mathematicians.

We aim to attract mathematicians who, on graduation, will have benefited most from their time in Cambridge. Hence we are looking for mathematical potential, rather than necessarily the finished product (not in the least because it is most fun and challenging to teach the brightest students). To that end, we admit students from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a wide variety of interests.

The University organizes lectures and examinations, while the Colleges arrange small-group teaching (called supervisions). For your first three years, you will on average be supervised twice a week, normally in groups of two, by mathematicians ranging from Professors to research students. Given their different backgrounds, your supervisors have varied attributes, e.g. some have more experience, while others are closer to your own age (and to whom you may find it easier to relate). However, taken as a whole, our aim is to excite you, to engage you, and to develop the full range of your mathematical abilities.

Thumbnail image of Dr Stergios Antonakoudis Thumbnail image of Dr Stephen J. Cowley Thumbnail image of Dr Perla Sousi Thumbnail image of Professor Nigel Peake Thumbnail image of Professor James Pringle

Your Directors of Studies will take a particular interest in you during your first year. We hope that is a good point (although if, workwise, your hope is to fly beneath the radar, then it might not be). Our aim is to develop a strong ethos of mutual support within and between years. We hope that we are successful.

On balance, we prefer mathematicians not to take a gap year, but if you wish to do so, then at least part of the time should be spent on some mathematics-related activity, simply to stop you going rusty.

For those who still read books, the mathematics section in the College Library is well-endowed, and it is straightforward to order new books.

We recognize that deciding on a College is not easy. However, compared with your leading-order decision to read mathematics at Cambridge, your choice of College is a second-order effect, so do not lose too much sleep over it.

Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP)

Like other Colleges, Emmanuel almost always includes STEP grades in conditional offers. One of the reasons we use STEP is because the questions are less standard and less structured than, for example, A-level questions; this helps us to identify ability and potential. Another is that success at STEP is a good predictor of success in the Mathematical Tripos. While we normally ask for a grade 1 or above in both STEP 2 and 3, we take individual circumstances into account in determining each offer. For more information regarding STEP please see the Faculty of Mathematics' STEP pages and the Faculty’s Guide to Admissions.

Further Mathematics

If you are taking A-levels, then AS-level Further Mathematics is a course requirement for entry in October 2018. Please note that A-level Further Mathematics will be required for entry in October 2019. If your school does not offer teaching for Further Mathematics modules, you may be able to get help from the Further Mathematics Support Programme.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer: A-level - A*A*A; IB - 776 at Higher Level, 41 or 42 points overall; Advanced Highers: AAA; other exam systems; plus a grade 1 or above in both STEP 2 and 3.
Course Requirements: A-level Mathematics, AS-level Further Mathematics and STEP. Additionally, for Mathematics with Physics applicants, A-level Physics, or Further Mathematics with three units of Mechanics, is essential.
Desirable requirement: A-level Further Mathematics.
Course Outline: Further course details are available on the Faculty's website.

Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 3 - Wednesday 12 December 2018. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

During the interviews, each of which last for approximately 30-35 minutes, we look to see how you approach the unknown, and how keen you are to find out more. For example: many know that to test whether a number is divisible by three, you add up the digits and check if the sum is divisible by three. Have you ever wondered why? We might ask something like this as a starter question, and then develop the idea.

The best interview preparation is to do lots of mathematics and to have a secure hold of the material you have been taught at school. Then, you need to bring to the interview an alert mind and an interest in the subject.

We aim to ask you slightly non-routine questions, and it is normal for students to get stuck and require hints (since one of the qualities we are looking for is how you use those hints). During the interview we will ask you to explain to us your approach to the questions (so that we can understand what you are thinking). We appreciate that this is not something that you normally do when trying to solve a problem, so our final word of advice is to practice talking about your working while you are doing some questions.

Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office

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